June 15, 2023 13:31
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday had lunch with the families of victims of North Korea's abduction campaign in the Korean War and the 1970s and 80s.
The issue of the abductions and what exactly happened to the victims was pushed on the back burner by previous governments in their doomed bids for rapprochement with the North Korean regime.
But Japan and the U.S., whose citizens were also kidnaped, have been more steadfast in their pursuit of the matter and have even made some small progress in negotiations with the North.
Yoon "expressed his intention to solve abduction-related issues, which have been pushed aside for fear that they might pose an obstacle to inter-Korean relations," a presidential official said.
Over lunch with about 190 veterans and their families, Yoon attributed "the country's prosperity and development out of the ashes of war to the sacrifices of those who died defending freedom against the invasion of communist forces."
Invited to the lunch were veterans of the Korean War (1950-53) as well as the first and second battles of Yeonpyeong (1999, 2002) and survivors of the torpedoing of the Navy corvette Cheonan (2010) or their families.
Back in April, first lady Kim Keon-hee also met with some families of South Koreans abducted by the North.
Of about 3,800 South Korean people presumed to have been kidnapped by the North since the Korean War, 516 were never repatriated. After a trilateral summit with Yoon last November, U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida supported the immediate release of any South Koreans who may still be languishing in the North.
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